Demetrius Tatum had a vision and he wasted no time in bringing that vision, Atlanta’s The Preview Tradeshow, to life. 15 years ago, Tatum used his unwavering motivation and natural hustle to join the Air Jordan brand at age 24, after dropping out of college. Then last year, after a string of gigs at high-profile brands, Demetrius decided to step out on his own and create The Preview Tradeshow in his hometown of Atlanta. Now, as the show approaches its 6th edition, the team prepares for its largest show yet as well as the launch of Demetrius’ own clothing line Publik Trust. We caught up with Demetrius ahead of the upcoming edition of Preview on October 7th and 8th to find out how it all got started, and how it got to where it is today.
WHAT WERE THE FIRST STEPS IN CREATING THE PREVIEW TRADESHOW AND WHO STARTED IT?
First and foremost, a group of four people who had worked in the fashion industry in Atlanta for several years: Karla Duncan, Wanneh Jenkins, Vern White and myself, Demetrius Tatum, came together to fill, what we saw to be, an underserviced and untapped marketing in the Southeast and decided to fill that industry void by creating The Preview Tradeshow (TPT). Through a group of industry friends and business associates, TPT was able to produce and execute a trade show that created an event-like atmosphere for fashion insiders, while providing excellent customer service to retailers, vendors and manufactures.
Our first trade show took place just over a year ago in July. Before launching that show we worked to scout the best possible location with the goal of finding something convenient for out of town retailers and for our purposes, the best location was Georgia International Convention Center.
Through TPT, we want the fashion industry to recognize the trends and focus of the street, skate and urban footwear is the Southeast, and it seemed most logical to make Atlanta the hub for TPT.
The first brands to participate in TPT were brands with existing relationships to the founders. We started with 20 brands in our first show, and we prepare for our sixth show, we’re working with and hosting more than 250 brands. Once we had the core group of vendors involved, we decided to make it an event – to have a DJ, an opening night party with a party bus, and create a dynamic atmosphere for brands to get to know one another and network with buyers and retailers in an event-like atmosphere, rather than just producing a traditional industry trade show.
AS TPT CONTINUES TO GROW LARGER, WHAT IS ONE ASPECT YOU ALWAYS WANT TO STAY THE SAME?
One thing that we don’t want to lose is who we are and how we got started. As former fashion industry sales reps, we want to remain humble, take care of our brands and partners and always provide great customer service to our brand vendors and retailers.
AS AN INVITATION-ONLY EVENT, HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH BRANDS ARE RIGHT FOR THE SHOW? WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU LOOK FOR?
TPT has a committee that screens all applications that come in from brands. The main things we consider is the length of time a company has been in business, the retailers the brands are currently selling to and the brand website. For brands that don’t make it in to a show, we always encourage them to come back, since we have four (4) shows a year, and offer counsel and advice for steps to take to get their brand to the next level.
ON THE FLIP SIDE TO THAT, IS IT DIFFICULT TO TURN OTHER BRANDS AWAY?
Of course it is. We want to give everyone a shot in the industry. You never really know who that next big brand will be to pop; however, to preserve the integrity of the show, we can’t accept everyone. But like I mentioned before, we’ll give advice and feedback to brands that were not accepted for this show and counsel them on steps to take to help can’t their brand to the next level.
TPT brings a great energy and excitement to an already booming market and Atlanta offers vendors and retailers the great southern hospitality and customer service that the city is known for.
LASTLY, ANY SHOUT OUTS TO BRANDS YOU’RE EXCITED TO SHOWCASE THIS YEAR?
The Hundreds – a huge supporter of the tradeshow
Other brands to take a close look at for their new collections are: Rocksmith, LRG, Akoo, Born Fly, Sprayground, Huff, DGK, Gourmet Footwear, fly kix, Dr. Denim, DTLR, City Gear, sneaker town, Dr. Stylz, nouvou and Moda 404.
Also, shout out to Agenda Tradeshow: Aaron Levant was a great inspiration and mentor for TPT.
It’s staggering to see how much The Preview Tradeshow has grown in just over a year. A quick look at the pedigree of brands showcasing their gear at the show this year is a solid indication of how big it truly is. It’s also evidence that Demetrius and his team really tapped into a gold mine in Atlanta, bringing all manners of streetwear and gear to the scene threre. Despite the success the TPT has seen in such a short amount of time, it’s refreshing to see that customer service is still focus number one. Thanks to Demetrius for taking the time to chat with us and be sure to catch all that legendary Southern hospitality as the tradeshow hits The Georgia International Convention Center on October 7th and 8th.
Founder Demetrius Tatum (center in blue) at the One Year Anniversary edition of TPT